Last week I attended the AZ IT Symposium in Phoenix. Last year I was a presenter for one of the breakout sessions. This year, I sat on a panel. As both a participant and a presenter, I would like to comment on this recent event compared to last year. There was a subtle but significant shift that took place regarding the topics of the event and ensuing conversations.
A Year Ago
Last year, there were several slots focused on people and leadership in IT. My topic was, The Impact of Workforce 2020 on IT. Last year, the session was filled to capacity and the Q&A session was engaging, but more people were passively listening, which was expected since this was newly released information.
This year, either by design or chance or the fact that there is finally a greater appetite in IT for the business issues of IT, the concepts of leadership, innovation / transformation and human capital were not only topics on their own, but drifted into many of the tech type sessions, as well. Finally, it appears that leadership, transformation and human capital concepts are converging with the business topics of IT! How refreshing, at least!
The Speakers and Topics
- The opening speaker, Chris Filandro, VP, CIO of Mertiage Homes, delivered a focused, practical presentation on the path the CIO should take, CIO Into the Boardroom – The 12 Step Program. This laid the groundwork for a lot of break and luncheon conversations.
- "The audience members in every session - keynote and breakout - were hungry for the tools to have greater influence and involvement in strategic decision-making for their organizations. IT is poised to drive significant business growth and efficiencies, once IT leadership can crack this code. Every company is now an IT company." - Katharine Halpin, The Halpin Companies
- This was followed by a robust panel discussion moderated by Fred Mapp (in which I participated), The Business Transformation of IT. Surprisingly, there was standing room only, and there was active and constant participation from the audience. When the presentation was over, people didn’t leave but stayed around for further conversation.
- “I was pleased with the amount of interest people had for looking at ways to continue to align and transform the business of IT.” - Fred Mapp, Mapping IT.
- The keynote luncheon speaker, Steve Wille, spoke about Harnessing the Power of Human Ingenuity, which fueled more luncheon and break conversation.
Why is This So Important?
We always expect IT conferences to be heavily weighted toward technology topics. Of course, these topics were part of the agenda. But when the agenda includes topics on leveraging workforce collaboration, dealing with the millennials, taking advantage of innovations that happen only once a decade, accelerating transformation with data, now the focus is not just the technology of IT, but the business of IT as it supports and drives the business of the business.
A Transformative Moment, In the Works
From my vantage point, there was a business buzz permeating the IT conference that signals a business shift in how IT sees itself as a business driver desiring to behave, perform and communicate in ways that give them the important seat at the C-Suite and Board levels. For years, we know that businesses perform better when IT has a strategic input into strategic business decisions. I am encouraged to see that the senior leaders in IT are finally ready for their own transformation and that business concepts are getting traction in the IT world.
If you're interested in learning more about 'future proofing' your IT organization, we invite you to register and secure your spot for our upcoming lunch and learn, "Finding the Right Balance Between Business Innovation, Operational Excellence and Future Focus."